Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happenings at Bay Area Park: The Goose

I've started visiting this park in Clear Lake on a regular basis, so I'm hoping this will be the first post in a series on nature sightings at Bay Area Park.

Last week, a short visit revealed a crow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, bluebirds, Common Grackles, a tree completely covered in sapsucker feeding holes, an armadillo burrow, and a pond where a Great Egret, a seagull, a goose, and some ducks were devouring the foody offerings of a small child. The goose - which was larger than said child - could be heard screeching long before we laid eyes on it.

On today's visit, we got a chance to get a closer look at this lone goose.

A much, much closer look.

You have to look pretty close to see it, but he has a pretty yellow eye ring.

We'd brought our lunch to the pond, and this goose approached us before we'd even selected a table. Immediately he began to assail us with what I can only call a dinosaur screech. The following is a 40-second video that will allow you to hear some dino screeching with your own ears, and observe this magnificent dinosaur goose in action.

My brother was offering him a bit of chicken. The goose didn't eat it. Later, he offered Sir Goose some granola, which Sir Goose did accept. The goose stared at me for quite a while, even though I had nothing to offer, and at one point even pecked at my knee. I shooed him away, though he remained at our table. The dinosaur screeching was unceasing.

This seems to be the only goose living here at the park, and I suspect that makes him lonely. A goose like this ought to have a goose friend. Maybe that would keep him from screeching at us throughout our entire lunch. Or, even when he did wander away, would keep him from staring creepily at us from a distance.

I must admit that this goose made me highly uncomfortable.

This goose is a spectacle. People stop their cars to take a look at this goose standing proudly by the roadside. Anyone can approach the goose. You don't even have to have anything edible on you. If you are in need of a goose encounter, you know where to find one now. He probably won't attack you.

Rest assured you will be able to get much closer than this.
A little internet searching reveals that this is a domesticated variety of the Swan Goose (yes, that's really what it's called), the wild Swan Goose being a native of Mongolia, China, Russia. There seem to be two breeds of domestic Swan Goose: the "Chinese Goose" and the "African Goose". Both seem basically identical. There was something about the "African" variant being larger, but I'm not sure, so I'm just going to call it a domestic Swan Goose and leave it at that. And yes, the wild Swan Goose makes dinosaur screechy noises as well. I'm sure you were wondering that.

He is here.

He approaches.
You've got a goose friend now.

 In addition to this lone goose, there are also two small flocks of ducks: one group of mallards, one group of muscovy ducks. The two species don't seem to mingle at all, at least while we were there.

Forget chickens, why aren't we talking about geese and ducks crossing the road?
I find one of these mallards very interesting because he has a perfectly round poof of feathers on his head. It's a permanent feature, because this little poof hat was spotted last week too.

Nice hat!
Of course a little research shows that this is yet another peculiar breed of domestic mallard, probably the "crested duck" variety.

In addition to the ducks and geese, Franklin's Gulls were plentiful (distinguishable from Laughing Gulls by their white wingtips). We heard chickadees, but didn't see them, saw and heard a mockingbird singing loudly in a bush, and spotted another little armadillo home in the ground. Although there are signs for alligators everywhere, I'm still waiting for the day we spot one here.